Japanese RPGs are a dime a dozen — in Japan — and for one to crawl out of the region-specific territory and be translated into English, it would have to be something special. The Denpa Men: They Came by Wave is one such title.
Developed by Pokemon Colosseum alumni Genius Sonority, Denpa Men retains all the quirk of the quirkiest Japanese RPGs but with a very intriguing twist for Nintendo 3DS.
So, is the game worth your time? Let’s find out!
The Denpa Men are everywhere. They’re in the lift, in the lorry, in the bond wizard, and all over the malonga gilderchuck, as our favorite Australian The Simpsons character would say.
Your job is to find them, capture them and force them to help you on your quest through endless dungeons on a mission you will barely understand. The way you capture them is through the Nintendo 3DS camera, not unlike Spirit Hunters Inc., though they tend to put up less of a fight.
Denpa Men are populated based on radio waves, we’re told, which means that the characters you find in one spot may also be found in that same spot by a friend on their own game. This system works over WiFi, so you will need to have that feature turned on.
Denpa Men come in a variety of different colours, and their colours determine their type and how effective they will be on the battlefield. A red Denpa Man, for example, will be resistant to fire attacks, but are weak against water. This is the “sizzors/paper/rock” mechanic popularised by the Pokemon franchise — you know it well, it works, and is very easy to follow.
However, The Denpa Men: They Came by Wave takes this system a little further. Your characters strengths are affected based on their physical size. A large Denpa Man will have more HP, for example. This shuffles up the strategic element of the game quite a bit: you might find characters to catch, but they may not be suitable for your current mission.
Dungeon diving is the order of the day for most of the game’s action, outside of capturing characters. While you shouldn’t be expecting to see any great leaps in innovation in the actual maze-like levels, fans of the genre will get a decent kick out the game’s design. It’s not a bad thing that the levels are basic, though: this is a game of strategy rather than one of exploration.
Battles adopt the tried and true method of a turn-based system. The animations are nice, the characters are quirky and RPG fans will feel very comfortable with the layout. One slight draw back, though, is the recycling of enemy characters in the latter half of the game with a slight colour change: this is a method we saw put to rest in widespread use in the mid-1990’s save for a few lazy titles. This probably has more to do with the developers wanting to keep file sizes low for digital distribution, but a little more variety would’ve been nice.
The Denpa Men: They Came by Wave is a classic RPG with a very quirky difference. It’s premise is suited extremely well to Nintendo 3DS.
RPG fans will not be disappointed.